The Napa Valley Unified School District Board of Education has a new trustee for Area 1 after selecting retired investment banker Robin Jankiewicz over union leader Denise Gibb during a special school board meeting on Thursday.
The decision was prompted by the departure of Trustee Stacy Bratlien, who resigned in February, having moved out of Area 1 that covers Yountville as well as north and east Napa.
Jankiewicz and Gibb applied to the school board to fill out the remainder of Bratlien’s term, which expires after the November election.
Both candidates received praised from trustees and residents who spoke at Thursday’s meeting.
“We are blessed to have both candidates,” said board President Joe Schunk, who represents American Canyon.
But when it came time to choose a replacement, the board voted unanimously, 6-0, for Jankiewicz. Gibb’s name never came up for a vote.
“Obviously I’m very pleased,” said Jankiewicz after the meeting. “Denise was a fierce and real competitor, and I have a great deal of respect for what she’s done.”
Gibb, 59, is a lifelong Napan who recently retired from NVUSD after 35 years working as a painter. Three generations of her family, including Gibb, have attended NVUSD schools.
She spent the past four years serving as president of the local chapter for the California School Employees Association.
Trustees and residents described Gibb as “passionate” and “tireless” in her efforts to represent the school district’s classified employees.
“It is extremely clear your dedication to NVUSD and the community in general and our education community,” said Trustee Robb Felder, who represents the westside neighborhoods of Napa.
“Your dedication to the district is not to be questioned,” he added about Gibb.
But the school board decided it wanted Jankiewicz’s experience in corporate finance and her many years of volunteering at local schools.
Jankiewicz has lived in the Napa Valley for nearly 30 years after moving from New York City. Her career in investment banking included working for Paine Webber and UBS, specializing in biotechnology.
Her children attended both private and public schools in Napa. She wrote on her application that her kids went to Blue Oak School for elementary and middle school, where she served on the school’s Board of Trustees for six years.
She also served on a variety of committees dealing with fundraising, accreditation, and administration hiring.
Her son attended Vintage High School from 2011-2015. She volunteered in various capacities, including serving as president and fundraising chair for the Athletic Booster Club.
Jankiewicz will have to run in the November election if she wants to continue representing Area 1 beyond this year.
Area 1 trustees have had a habit in recent years of not sticking around.
Bratlien served only 14 months before stepping down. She was absent from numerous school board meetings during her brief tenure on the board.
Before her, Helen Busby was appointed in 2015 to represent Area 1 after Trustee Jacqueline Chilton resigned to move to Los Angeles.
Busby spent 18 months on the school board, and could have run in the 2016 election to keep her seat.
But she elected not to run, opening the way for Bratlien to claim the seat unopposed.
Jankiewicz will be officially sworn in at the school board meeting on March 15.
The school board chose to appoint a replacement for Bratlien instead of calling a special election, which would have cost the district about $250,000, according to trustees.